Nations opening up amid rise in Covid

Thursday July 16 2020

 

By Karoli Ssemogerere

In the last two weeks, USA, Russia, India and other countries have reported a spike in corona infections. The United States just celebrated July 4 and the big states are reeling - California, Florida from a spike in infections.

There is a silent war of words between the White House and the top public health official in the US, Dr Anthony Fauci.

President Trump has had enough, but has now worn a mask in the public for the first time. Masks everywhere is a protocol likely to be around for some time because it stems infections.

In the state of Louisiana, home to the Mardi gras, the Governor has issued blunt rules - no barbershops and no bars. But this information is limited, as many countries don’t have the party culture.

Kenya and other countries with more limited numbers of fatalities have also seen a spike. Kenya has reopened its airspace to commercial and leisure travel. Tanzania did that a while back. Many countries have resolved to keep their economies open to the outside world for trade and business as a risky strategy.

In Uganda, as the shutdown is easing in Kampala, most businesses are operating normally upcountry. New cities have been launched with decongestion, street lighting, which is very difficult to maintain and drainage works.

Advertisement

But generally, most countries with a few exceptions, have chosen to maintain some level of economic activity. They have kept people at home on furlough and established income support for those who may still be working with reduced incomes.

This is the luxury of the richest countries, the US and the UK. But they will have to raise taxes to close up the deficits implicated. The US has racked up $855 billion and the UK £345 billion or about one third of the US amount. The US deficit looks smaller partly because of a healthier recent economy.

Down in the European Union, there are two main plans, a $500 billion plan to keep infrastructure spending going and conclude Brexit given that Britain is not budging on retaining control of its fisheries. There is an ongoing tension after the departure of the UK from the EU.

The EU wants this money levied on taxpayers sent directly to Brussels. Many European countries, including Germany, hate this idea and have opposed running for the courts for interpretation of EU law. Overall, the Europeans handled coronavirus well barring any new outbreaks of the disease.

In South Africa, lockdown is back after a similar spike, Nelson Mandela’s daughter Zinzi succumbed last week. They have reverted to lockdown.

In the next few months, many countries have to decide a host of other issues. Budget cuts can only do so much. Schools can’t remain closed indefinitely. Many countries wary of untested waters everywhere, have chosen to keep schools closed for the rest of the year or going online.

The online has been informal as a remedial measure, but governments have shown they don’t like it and will cut funding for those schools are learning from home and some wanted to send purely online students back to their home countries.

The US-China wars are likely to be a big issue next year if Trump is re-elected. The Chinese dread him he has caused them quite a cost for their recent actions in Hong Kong for example. China is also feeling the effect of a rapidly shrinking economy.

The UK, one of its biggest markets where Huawei’s 5G was recently cancelled, shrunk 19 per cent. But economists say this is not a problem as the old economy will recover and as expected many businesses are shuttered for good.

Hospitality, transport, Main Street businesses which after this debacle, the owners have chosen to retire as they are unwilling to accept the risk of daily infection.

These are lessons Brazil has spelled out to everybody else as it deals with the third largest number of Corona virus infections.

Mr Ssemogerere is an Attorney-At-Law and an Advocate.
kssemoge@gmail.com